Big Mama, Ginger and Me
by Karen Cauble
Still in my night gown and bare feet, I fly down the stairs to the fenced yard and behold Ginger and baby facing off. “How did that baby get into the yard?” The calf stands her ground. Ginger is perplexed: Should she play with this creature, or chase it, or eat it. I call to my dog and advance gently towards the pair. I plan to grab Ginger’s collar because she is not responding to my urgent call. “We need to cool this scene.” Abruptly, Big Mama who now apparently is the observer, flies over the 6 foot fence, takes her place besides her calf and prepares to charge Ginger and me. Big Mama is extremely impressive with her towering seven ft. bigness, lowered head, and fighting stance. Ginger does not gurgle or growl or bark. With the sense that god gave geese we both simultaneously run for the back stairs. I get Ginger in the house and proceed back to the yard. I know the gates must be opened, even if I am still in night gown with bare feet. On the east side, ringed with 6 foot Pushki, I see the fence has been scrambled and pushed down. Somehow, the calf in desperation to find her mother, must have gotten tangled in the fence and spring boarded into the yard.
Meanwhile, Big Mama had jumped back over the fence from whence she came, and was now following the fence line encouraging her calf to jump. This is ridiculous. Her calf can’t jump like that for another 8 months or so. I open the gate on the west side, careful not to disturb baby, then attempt to get the east side gate open. Didn’t work. The calf starts to charge me. I stand down and baby gets flustered. Pushki in its abundance, pushes against the outside fence, where Big Mama is alertly on watch. She takes a few flower bulb mouthfuls. Baby kneels down momentarily to munch on some grass and chickweed. Makes sense to me: stressful situations call for the munchies.
Again I attempt to get around baby to reach and open the east gate. Still doesn’t work. Baby is up and ready to charge. I admit, baby is charming rather than fearsome when she does this, but I choose to be the least stressful I can be. Big Mama heads North away from the conflict and baby follows the fence line calling to her protector with a mournful “Humph, Humph, Humph”sound. I slip by and get the east gate open, but only opening in, not opening out. Baby trots over to the east side while I scoot on up the stairs. But baby is almost caught in a cage with the gate open on the inside. Her call for help is even more distressing and Big Mama returns.
This time Big Mama follows the fence around to the west side again. Ginger, now totally quiescent, and I watch safely from the back deck as baby moose goes back and forth on the west side of the fence. She smells the fence where her Mother jumped over it, and makes her woeful call. If she would just trot south 10 more feet, she would find the open gate. Ginger and I back off, taking our presence and scents with us. I am hoping less stress in the situation will bring release. Another 30 minutes pass of baby’s back and forth struggle on the west side fence line. With Mom standing right there, the persevering calf finally went the necessary 10 more feet to freedom. The cute little baby moose was reunited with Big Mama. They went North away from the road, the yard, Ginger and me, safely into the wilderness.
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Karen Cauble, Owner/Operator
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Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Species: MOOSE Alces alces